“I have a problem,” Molly whispered to me as we stood in line for gelato. I stared at her from the side and silently cursed how even pregnant she was still thinner than me, with a tiny bump protruding from her shirt. She looked like she’d eaten three too many chips, not that she was 16 weeks pregnant.
“What’s your problem?” I asked, annoyed.
“Chris wants to come to the ultrasound appointment.”
“Oh,” I said as I frowned at her. “That is a problem. Have you seen him since you two broke it off?”
She shook her head and then asked, “I was wondering if you could come with me, too. To the appointment. I know it’s in the middle of the day and I already asked Sarah and Michael, but neither of them could. I figure since you’re on such, uh, good terms with Boss, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
I stared at her for a minute and wondered if I should be horrified by her words. Did she really think I kissed Boss to get favorable treatment at work? “Well, when you ask like that, how can I say no?” I said through my clenched teeth.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry. Aust3n, you know I’m terrible at not putting my foot in my mouth. I need you there. I didn’t want to ask you but I really need you there.”
I nodded my head to her and we stepped forward to order our gelato.
“My question is,” my therapist asked me, “why are you spending so much time obsessing over relationships, both yours and your friends?”
I shrugged at her and then glanced at my watch. Molly’s ultrasound was in less than an hour, but I also didn’t want to rush out and piss off Mary. I was a little scared of her.
“Think, Aust3n. Why do you keep putting all your energy into men instead of into yourself?”
“I’m not putting energy into men. It’s just happening.”
She raised an eyebrow at me and said, “Really? You dating brothers just happens?“
“You make me sound like a slut! I haven’t even slept with either of them!” I huffed. It was a partial truth, anyway. “And yes, it just happens. At least with me.”
“OK, let’s assume that this just happened, that you’re right,” she said with a disbelieving tone. “But what do you want from these men? Marriage? Children? What?”
I looked at her, totally bewildered. “I never thought of myself as the marrying kind.”
“Why’s that, Aust3n?”
“Because marriage is for…” I trailed off, trying to think of the right words that would let her release me to go to the hospital and see Molly.
“Marriage is for?” Mary stared at me.
“Marriage is for better people than me,” I muttered.
“Oh?” she said right as her timer went off. She looked at it with a glare, like she was angry. “We need to continue right back at this point next week, Aust3n.”
“Um, about that. I can’t make next week’s appointment because Ian will be visiting me, and I promised him I’d hang out.”
She didn’t need to say anything for me to know she was unhappy with my decision. I would have cared more, except right then my phone buzzed. Ian had sent me a photo of himself. He was laying in the grass with his sunglasses on, smiling up at his phone in a way that made me melt. I still barely recognized him without his beard and his shaggy hair, but there was no denying he was always going to be very, very good-looking. Underneath the photo he’d typed, “Wish you were here.”
I wished I was too.